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Belfast pupils told to walk home in pairs after girl is approached by suspicious man

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 09/01/2016

The PSNI ramped up patrols at Belfast Model School for Girls this week following news of the approach in Joanmount Gardens around 3.40pm
The PSNI ramped up patrols at Belfast Model School for Girls this week following news of the approach in Joanmount Gardens around 3.40pm

Parents and youngsters in north Belfast have been warned to be on the alert after a man approached a schoolgirl in "suspicious circumstances".

The pupil, who was walking home from school on Tuesday afternoon, refused to get into a car driven by the man and walked away before informing the police about the incident.

The PSNI ramped up patrols at Belfast Model School for Girls this week following news of the approach in Joanmount Gardens around 3.40pm.

School principal Emlyn Wright sent a letter to all pupils' parents the following day to warn them about the incident.

He told them that police were looking for a "white male with a local accent" in connection with the incident.

While he said that he did not wish to "cause significant alarm or distress," he felt it was appropriate to make parents aware of the suspicious approach.

Mr Wright wrote: "We have reminded all students that if they are walking home, they should try and do so in at least a pair.

"[We have also told them] what to do if a stranger approaches them on the street."

Local Ulster Unionist councillor Alderman David Browne called on all parents to ensure that their children are aware of the dangers posed by strangers.

"People need to know where their children are at all times - especially during the dark nights of winter," he said.

"There are many people in the world who are only too willing to prey on vulnerable children and young people.

"My message to parents is a simple one: educate your children about the dangers of strange men with cars. There are some very bad people out there.

Inspector Roy Watton said, as far as police were aware, there had been no other suspicious incidents involving students.

He added: "Approaches to children are thankfully rare. However, all parents should speak to their children about the importance of keeping safe and not speaking to strangers.

"Advice on stranger danger or on how to inform children about this issue can also be obtained from your local police on the non-emergency 101 number."

He appealed for anyone with information to contact Tennent Street PSNI station.

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